Supporting civil society
Civil society plays a key role in fostering stability, security and respect for democracy and human rights. ODIHR works to increase the capacity of civil society and to help participating States in implementing OSCE commitments in this area.
ODIHR facilitates an ongoing dialogue among civil society representatives and between civil society representatives and participating States.
The Office organizes meetings that allow for discussion on the implementation of participating States' OSCE commitments and the exchange of best practices, as well as supporting the development and consolidation of recommendations made by civil society organizations to participating States and OSCE institutions.
ODIHR also supports the development of existing civil society networks active throughout the OSCE region and encourages the creation of coalitions on issues related to its mandate.
Another key priority for ODIHR is to provide civil society with the tools for enhancing capacity, skills and knowledge in areas such as monitoring, reporting, raising awareness and conducting advocacy work.
ODIHR has developed and delivered capacity-building programmes for civil society organizations working on human rights, providing training for non-governmental organizations on the general principles of human rights monitoring as well as guidance in specific thematic areas, such as human rights education and the freedoms of assembly and association.
Recognizing the importance of civil society organizations as stakeholders and facilitators in democratization, ODIHR’s work in this field supports them in maximizing their contributions to policy- and decision-making.
Representatives of civil society, think tanks and policy-analysis centres are invited to contribute to research on and assessment of policies and legislation in participating States in areas including Democratic governance, Migration and Freedom of movement, and the Rule of law. ODIHR helps to strengthen the capacity of civil society by increasing dialogue and co-operation with state authorities.
Furthermore, consultations with civil society also help to shape ODIHR’s own work, priorities and strategies, thereby helping the Office to deliver programmes that fit civil society’s needs.
Meaningful co-operation with civil society – particularly with women's groups and NGOs working on gender-related issues and women's empowerment – is key to the success of ODIHR's activities on promoting gender equality and women's participation in political and public life. ODIHR supports networking between women's groups and political stakeholders at both the local and national level, facilitates the transfer of good practices on civil society participation in political processes, and engages women's organizations in research on political participation, women’s rights and violence against women.
ODIHR also supports the participation of NGOs in high-level events organized by the OSCE and its participating States to ensure that women's priorities, concerns and ideas are properly voiced in international policy discussions.
Combating Hate Crime
Appropriate responses on the part of local authorities to hate-motivated incidents – and condemnation by local and regional politicians – are needed to send a message to society that these kinds of behaviour are unacceptable. Therefore, a crucial element of ODIHR's work in this regard is to initiate an inclusive consultation process that involves interested practitioners from both civil society organizations and the relevant state institutions in addressing hate crimes, hate-motivated violence and other manifestations of intolerance. This effort is conducted at local, regional and national levels.
Working closely with civil society representatives involved in the monitoring of hate-motivated violence, ODIHR's programme also pays particular attention to:
- hate on the Internet;
- violent manifestations of intolerance targeting human rights defenders working on tolerance and non-discrimination issues;
- the role of young people as agents of change, including by raising their awareness of the impact of stereotypes and prejudice.